The Washington Times has reported that the U.S. has resumed contacts with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood despite Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s 2005 promise not to “engage” with the group. According to the report:
U.S. Embassy officials said they are acting in conformity with a worldwide policy of dealing with political parties that are represented in their national parliaments. Muslim Brotherhood members can only run for Egypt’s parliament as independents, and U.S. officials say they have met them only in that capacity. “Our rare contacts with the nominally independent members of parliament have occurred only in the full light of day, with many other Egyptians present, including members from the ruling National Democratic Party,” said Francis J. Ricciardone, the U.S. ambassador to Egypt. Asked whether the dealings were approved by Miss Rice, who ruled out such contacts in June 2005, Mr. Ricciardone said: “Of course, we report fully to Washington on these contacts.”… “Any such contacts do not imply American endorsement of the views of the individual parliamentarians or their political affiliates,” said Mr. Ricciardone, a career diplomat of nearly 30 years.
The report also briefly reviews the history of contacts between the U.S. government and the Brotherhood in Egypt:
Regular contacts between U.S. Embassy officials and the Muslim Brotherhood date back to the rule of President Anwar Sadat during the 1970s. Although the group has been illegal since 1954, it was tolerated by various governments until Mr. Mubarak took power. Mr. Ricciardone recalled that, as a low-level embassy official in the late 1980s, he made “occasional visits” to the group’s headquarters in downtown Cairo. Contacts were discontinued after September 11, 2001, when the group “indicated to us that they had no desire to continue such contacts,” he said. In June 2005, Miss Rice said in Cairo that the United States “won’t” engage with the Muslim Brotherhood, but contacts resumed again last year. “Any such contacts do not imply American endorsement of the views of the individual parliamentarians or their political affiliates,” said Mr. Ricciardone, a career diplomat of nearly 30 years.
A previous post has noted that Mohamad Saad El Katatny, described as the chief representative of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Parliamentary bloc, was allowed to attend an academic conference at Georgetown University in March and in June, the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research held a meeting with other representatives of the intelligence community to discuss opening more formal channels to the Brotherhood. Numerous posts have detailed contact with U.S. government agencies with individuals and groups that are part of the global Muslim Brotherhood network.